It all came together for Coastal Carolina in the second half Saturday night at Brooks Stadium.
The Chanticleers outscored Alabama-Birmingham 27-0 in the final two quarters to overcome a four-point halftime deficit and earn their first win of the season, 47-24.
The Chants outscored the Blazers 40-3 after falling behind 21-7 in the second quarter.
“We made good, smart adjustments at halftime. We made those from an offensive perspective and defensive perspective,” CCU head coach Joe Moglia said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way our guys just hung in there and did what they needed to do for us to win. This was a big win for Coastal Carolina.”
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The Blazers (1-1) were 8-5 last season and played in a bowl game, and returned 20 starters between offense, defense and special teams skill positions. They defeated CCU 30-23 last season in the first meeting between the schools and were coming off a 52-0 win over FCS opponent Savannah State in their season opener last week.
“It feels, really, really good, especially the way we were clicking. We’re going to enjoy this one for sure,” senior running back Marcus Outlow said. “The scoreboard shows what we can do when we play with 100 percent confidence, and that’s everybody.”
The Chants (1-1), who lost 49-15 at South Carolina in the season opener last week, got big games from their top two running backs. Outlow gained 140 yards on 20 attempts and scored two touchdowns, and sophomore Presbyterian transfer Torrance Marable had 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns on seven carries as well as a 29-yard touchdown catch.
The Chants gained 296 of their 463 total yards on the ground on 43 carries behind a young starting offensive line consisting of three sophomores, a freshman and a junior.
“Last year it was a whole bunch of young guys on the line just trying to figure out their way,” Outlow said. “Just how far we’ve come and the constant day in and day out of grinding and really perfecting this offense, I’m just so happy more for the offense than anything.”
Quarterback Kilton Anderson completed 11 of 18 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, had 72 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries, and did not commit a turnover.
Coastal got second half rushing touchdowns of 1-yard by Outlow, 2 and 34 yards by Marable and a 7-yard receiving TD by sophomore running back Alex James to run away from the Blazers.
The Chants outgained UAB 214-117 in the second half, and scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 3:17 to extend the margin of victory.
“We kind of blew them out a little bit in the fourth quarter,” Moglia said. “I think they really got tired, and one of the things we said against South Carolina is our guys are in very good shape. It wasn’t like it was a whole lot of magic. We made our adjustments, we came out in the second half and played better football. In the fourth quarter we were in better shape and more disciplined.”
Defensively, sophomore defensive lineman Jeffrey Gunter blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter by leaping with an arm outstretched in the middle of the line to preserve what at the time was a three-point CCU lead.
A late interception by Chandler Kryst on a deflected pass followed by a 34-yard Marable touchdown iced the win.
Coastal jumped out to a quick lead, but it was short-lived. The Chants needed just three plays to score following the opening kickoff, as Outlow raced for 60-yard touchdown run.
UAB scored just five minutes later on its first offensive possession. Quarterback A.J. Erdely scored on a 4-yard run to culminate a 75-yard, 11-play drive. Kingston Davis scored on a 14-yard run to complete an eight-play, 62-yard drive to give the Blazers a 14-7 lead on their second possession, and a meandering 64-yard touchdown run by Kendall Parham put the Blazers up 21-7.
Parham raced around left end and down the left sideline for about 35 yards before slipping a couple tackles and picking up a few blocks as he cut all the way across the field to score near the right pylon.
UAB converted all four third down opportunities on its first three possessions, including a third-and-21 at their own 41 following a holding penalty and sack with a 24-yard reception over the middle by Austin Watkins, and a third-and-11 with another 16-yard Watkins catch over the middle. The Blazers would convert just one of eight third downs thereafter and also failed on a fourth down.
Through UAB’s first three drives, Coastal had allowed touchdowns on 10 of its first 13 defensive possessions on the season, and that included South Carolina’s final drive last week in which it ran out the final 2:54 off the clock.
Moglia said second half adjustments included better defending the quarterback run and run gaps.
“The main thing, like we always say, is to stay calm and weather that storm. Eventually things are going to start clicking. You saw tonight everything started clicking,” said sophomore defensive lineman C.J. Brewer, who had seven total tackles – which was one shy of a team-high – 1.5 tackles for losses, a batted pass attempt and forced fumble.
“I feel once things get on that right path our team goes up. Everybody starts playing better, everybody wants to make plays, everybody starts doing their assignment,” Brewer continued. “Football is an assignment thing. If you’re going your assignment, more than likely thing are going to turn out good.”
The Blazers had 232 yards of offense just 1:30 into the second quarter, but finished with 435 yards.
Two big plays help CCU pull within a touchdown at 21-14 – a 35-yard reception by Ky’Jon Tyler and 29-yard Marable touchdown catch on a wheel route. Anderson faked a handoff to Marable, who continued around the left side of the line and down the sideline and was wide open.
A 26-yard quarterback draw up the middle by Anderson for a touchdown pulled the Chants within a point. Right guard Brock Hoffman recovered a fumble to keep the drive alive, falling on receiver Jeremiah Miller’s fumble on a big hit following an 11-yard reception near midfield.
Nick Vogel’s 42-yard field goal with 3 minutes left in the half gave UAB a 24-20 halftime lead.
The Chants forced a punt on the opening possession of the second half, then embarked on an 11-play, 85-yard TD drive to take the lead for good. Anderson was 3-for-3 for 53 yards and Outlow gained 38 yards on 8 carries and scored on a 1-yard run.
“We pride ourselves on being conditioned,” Outlow said. “. . . I think it really showed. The second half was just a totally different game but it’s just a testament to our hard work and us being conditioned for a long game.”